G.M. and Chrysler close dealerships across the United States.
By Sid Riley
Jackson County citizens should rejoice that all of our local automotive dealerships will continue to operate on a normal basis, even though General Motors and Chrysler both cancelled dealership arrangements in communities across the nation. This action will cause thousands of employees to suddenly lose their jobs, and will cause many dealership owners to lose all they have worked for during their careers.
Locally there were three of our valued dealerships which could have been subject to this unfortunate action, Hopkins Pontiac-GMC, Pforte Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep, and Rahal-Miller Chevrolet-Buick-Cadillac. Thankfully, they and our community made the grade and will continue as part of the recovery and future of these industrial giants.
Bill Hopkins, of Hopkins Pontiac, was understandably worried until he was notified on Friday that Hopkins Pontiac was not going to lose its dealer privileges. "I have been part of the GM organization for all of my career, some fifty nine years", Hopkins relates. "I could not believe that all of that time, loyalty, and continuing relationships meant nothing to them. Also, they realize that North Florida will be an area of continuing growth in the near future. We are relieved and very proud to be one of those chosen to continue selling their wonderful products. We look forward to the future."
Ricky Miller of Rahal-Miller had similar emotions. "I feel that our outstanding record of customer satisfaction scores, sales performance, and dedication to their products resulted in our status with GM," Miller stated. "We have always enjoyed a very high dealer ranking, and I felt confident we would be among those chosen to continue. We are excited about the future. We see sales increasing, and are currently looking to add a couple of personnel to our sales and maintenance staff."
Bob Pforte of Pforte Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep had the same experience. "It could have happened, but I was confident we would be picked to continue. Our dealership just made a $200,000 investment in becoming one of the few "Business Link" dealers in the area. We are now equipped to sell and service the new truck franchise we acquired." Bob related. "We are encouraged by the upturn in business, and are having great increases in our service department. We appreciate our old, loyal customers for helping us through this period."
The amount of support the local dealerships provide to our local communities is immeasurable. When any organization, club, school event, charity, church, or group of any kind needs to raise funds, one of the first places they go it to our car dealers for participation and support. And in almost every instance…they get it. The auto dealerships in Jackson County are all very involved in the communities they serve, they are good citizens, and they contribute more than their share.
These are difficult times for the auto industry. Under current conditions, they need every sale they can possibly muster. If at all possible, we should all repay the benefits we receive from their presence by doing business with them. All of these local businessmen state that buying local has never meant more.
Collectively these three dealerships employ over 100 people with high paying jobs, and pay approximately $2,500,000 per year in payrolls. This payroll is multiplied by a factor of three or four as these people buy from other local businesses as the money circulates in the local economy. Their sales create income for the local banks, and the taxes they pay significantly impacts our schools and local governments.
The automotive dealerships in Jackson County form a very important segment of our local economy, our communities, and our well being. They actively support our schools, our churches, our hospitals, our communities, and us as individuals through their generous donations of money and time. We would all suffer from the loss of any of them. They deserve our blessings, our continued support, and our thanks. Try to buy local first!